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UNHCR chief Guterres signs funding agreement with Ireland

News Stories, 5 February 2009

© UNHCR/S.O'Brien
Ireland's Minister of State for Overseas development Peter Power (left) and High Commissioner António Guterres sign the funding agreement.

DUBLIN, Ireland, February 5 (UNHCR) The Irish government has pledged to continue its substantial financial support for the UN refugee agency under an accord signed with High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

Guterres, making his first visit to Ireland as UNHCR chief, inked a biannual agreement in Dublin on Wednesday with Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power, who signed on behalf of Irish Aid, Ireland's programme of assistance to developing countries.

The deal is worth 14.35 million euros (US$18.7 million) a year, but UNHCR might also seek additional emergency funding from Ireland and other countries depending on needs identified by the agency.

The agreement is an important strategic planning tool for UNHCR as its partnership with Ireland continues to grow. Like other donor nations, Ireland has had to consider cuts in its overseas aid at a time of economic recession.

But despite planned cuts, announced Tuesday, to its overseas development assistance, Ireland's contribution to UNHCR remains substantial. The small European nation also remains the sixth most generous donor for overseas development assistance internationally in per capita terms and among UNHCR's top 15 donors in monetary terms.

Ireland granted UNHCR some US$27 million annually in 2007 and 2008, consisting of a core contribution and funds for emergency operations. The money helped fund the refugee agency's operations worldwide to assist millions of displaced people.

"The agreement will help us develop our already very strong operational relationship with Irish Aid and offers a solid framework for assisting UNHCR achieve its global objectives for uprooted people," said Manuel Jordão, UNHCR's representative in Ireland.

"It's also crucial to have mechanisms this to measure the effectiveness of assistance given to us," Jordão added. An important aspect of the agreement will guide the monitoring and evaluation of UNHCR's performance, which will be reported in UNHCR's annual Global Report and at meetings of the agency's governing Executive Committee, of which Ireland is a member.

Guterres also discussed UNHCR's relationship with Ireland during a separate meeting on Wednesday with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

By Steven O'Brien in Dublin, Ireland

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The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

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A comprehensive view of the refugee agency's challenges and achievements worldwide.

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Governments, organisations and individuals who fund UNHCR's activities.

The Global Appeal and Supplementary Appeals

Alerting donors, organizations and individuals to the plight of millions of uprooted people.

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

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The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

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WFP needs to raise US$ 186 million to maintain feeding programmes for refugees in Africa through the end of the year. Additionally, UNHCR is urgently seeking contributions towards the US$ 78 million it has budgeted this year for food security and nutrition programmes serving refugees in Africa.

In the meantime, the refugees experiencing ration cuts have few options. Poor soil quality, dry conditions and little access to water mean they can't plant supplemental crops as refugees in the less arid south of Chad are able to do. To try to cope, many refugee women in eastern Chad are leaving the camps in search of work in surrounding towns. They clean houses, do laundry, fetch water and firewood and work as construction labourers. Even so, they earn very little and often depend on each other for support. In the town of Iriba, for example, some 50 refugee women sleep rough each night under a tree and share their some of their meagre earnings to pay for a daily, communal meal.

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WFP supplies food to some 240,500 Sudanese refugees in the camps of eastern Chad. Many have been in exile for years and, because of their limited opportunities for self-sufficiency, remain almost totally dependent on outside help. The ration cuts have made an already difficult situation much worse for refugees who were already struggling.

Food cuts in Chad camps expose refugee women and children to exploitation, abuse

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2014 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

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